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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

ALEXANDER  V6N   HUMBOLDT.                  57
tlxeir civilization. But he was already accustomed
to find regions as large, perhaps, as France, being
only an extended beautiful desert, and to see a
world which belonged only to plants and animals, and
whore a human voice has never sounded in joy or
in sorrow. Thus Humboldt stood at the brink of a
precipice 8000 feet deep, which the evening mist was
gradually veiling, and could not tear himself away
from this spot, till prudence urged him to return.
When their scientific investigations were completed,
he descended with his companions, and reached a
ravine at 10 o'clock that evening, where a dangerous
path awaited them., more dangerous because the
guides had secretly gone away to find a sleeping place
in the rocks, and Humboldt and Bonpland were
therefore obliged to carry their instruments them-
selves., oppressed as they were with thirst and fatigue.
We have detailed this excursion to show the courageous
perseverance of Humboldt's character, which does not
swerve before dangers and difficulties, but is alone
urged on by the love of science.
It way, therefore, only the peculiarities of an inter-
esting region, and the anxiety to become acquainted
with its form and natural products, which made him
unmindful of the xmusual distance, when, he left
Caracas in order to explore the large plains (llanos) of
the Ormoeco and Amazon streams, so rarely trodden by
men. He did not select tBe shortest route thither,
for he wished not to lose the impressions of the beau-
tiful vales of Apogna; besides that his scientific zeal
urged him to find the level of the more remarkable
portions of the coast mountains by means of the baro-
meter, and to navigate the Rio Apure, which flows
through the immense plains to its junction with the
Oriiiocco. The same motive led him to the mountains
of Los Taquoa, to the warm springs of Mariara, to the
fertile shores of the sea of Valencia, and through the
large prairies of Calabo^o, in the ©astern, part of the
province Varinas, to San Fernando de Apure on
the similarly-named river, Bio Aptue.